January 17, 2007 Library to Participate in Citywide Shakespeare Festival with Display of Materials on the Bard

Press Contact: Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022

Washington, D.C, will celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare, January - June 2007, with more than 100 presentations by more than 60 organizations, including the Library of Congress.

Opening on Feb. 22, a display case of items pertaining to the bard will be on view through Aug. 18 in the “American Treasures of the Library of Congress” exhibition, located in the Southwest Gallery of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition is free and open to the public, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Reflecting America’s long interest in William Shakespeare, the Library’s collections contain a wealth of Shakespeare-related material, from rare books such as the 1623 First Folio to popular-culture items such as tobacco labels, comic books and cartoons. In addition to the many books in the general collections, divisions of the Library with significant Shakespeare-related holdings include the following: Prints and Photographs; Music; Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound; Manuscript, Rare Books and Special Collections; Geography and Map; and Serials and Government Publications. Materials include rare illustrated books; papers of famous actors and actresses, including prompt books, images, manuscripts, and performance photographs; theatrical posters; costume designs; cartoons; fine prints; Shakespeare literary maps; films and sound recordings; manuscripts and printed editions of classical and popular music related to Shakespeare plays; and newspapers and magazines.

The Library’s one-case display focuses on “Shakespeare in America,” and items are drawn from many Library divisions. They include material connected with great actors, such as Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876), commonly thought to be the greatest American actress of the 19th century; Edwin Booth (1833-1893), considered the greatest American actor of his day; and Hume Cronyn (1911-2003), who won a 1964 Tony award for his portrayal as Polonius opposite Richard Burton’s Hamlet. Also featured are 19th- and 20th-century political cartoons referring to Shakespeare. A holograph manuscript of Samuel Barber’s opera “Antony and Cleopatra” (1966), which opened the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, will be featured, along with material from Shakespeare-inspired Broadway musicals. Material from the 1930s’ Federal Theatre Project will also be on display.

The Library will also offer special Shakespeare-themed tours of the Jefferson building beginning in February.

Spearheaded by Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser and Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn, the festival coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the largest collection of Shakespeare memorabilia outside of Stratford-upon-Avon. For more information on this landmark festival of theater, music, dance, art and film throughout the nation’s capital, visit the official Web site at www.ShakespeareinWashington.org.


PR 07-006
ISSN 0731-3527